The Change4life TV short advert unfairly portrays video games.

Change4life is a new campaign supported by the Department of Health launched to improve people's health and fitness levels. It features two TV adverts using claymation and simple messages to get its point across. In the shorter TV advert, computer games are used as an example of an unhealthy activity. Is this an oversimplified, unfair portrayal or a legitimate concern?

The Change4life TV short advert unfairly portrays video games.

Yes because... No because...

Does not show how to sensibly manage computer time.

The main problem with the advert is that it suggests that computer games are inherently bad and it is OK to switch them off at random points without saving or shutting the computer down. This is very bad practice for both your child's computer/user relationship and your computer's long term survival. Parents should instead be taught about when computer breaks should be taken, how long they should be, good postures to sit in front of the computer, as well as good computer care.

The point the advert is trying to make is that many children are allowed to spend all of their free time sitting around playing computer games rather than being taken outside by their parents and actually exercising. Both the child AND the parent are featured in the advert; it is about the whole family exercising, and THEIR long term survival. It also does not show the computer being turned off in any case, and does not seriously suggest dropping everything and running outside as soon as the advert is seen, as the claymation people do.

The Change4life TV short advert unfairly portrays video games.

Yes because... No because...

Benefits of computer games.

Computer games have many benefits. As well as being enjoyable, multi-player and online games, and games with large fandoms promote social skills. Role-playing games often require thought and strategy and require good language comprehension skills. An interest in games can lead to interests in games design and other IT jobs that pay well. They are a good introduction to computers for children in a society where computers play an important role in every aspect of life. Computer games are also very therapeutic because they are a place to take a break from the outside world.

Social skills, this is what humans get from face to face interaction. Talking through a computer is the equivalent of talking to the machine. You do not have to comprehend the fact that there is another human being on the receiving end. Mere typing does not constitute practising social skills. There is no verification of who is on the receiving end.

The suggestion that these virtual games increase language comprehension skills is laughable. Textual language is often full of shorthand and poor grammar. Surely the best way to increase the language comprehension skills of children is to encourage them to spend more time doing their homework and less time playing video games.

Finally, there is a massive difference between introducing children to video games, and allowing video games to consume our children's lives in place of family and physical exercise time. The latter is what the change for life advert wishes to encourage.

The Change4life TV short advert unfairly portrays video games.

Yes because... No because...

Games that promote fitness such as WiiFit.

Many games now are not just played sitting down with a controller. Games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero promote active movement. There are also specific games designed for fitness such as WiiFit.

The games mentioned require more physical movement than most video games. However, they are still no replacement for cardiovascular exercise. The calories burnt during a Wii game for example are nominal compared to that of playing "it" with friends. In addition, children can cheat on such games, they can play such games with little movement. The conclusion is that whilst a game might get you moving "cannot replace properly structured exercise" (1). This is exactly the message the change4life advert puts across.
(1)http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/exercise/reviews/nintendo-wii.htm

The Change4life TV short advert unfairly portrays video games.

Yes because... No because...

Playing video games can cause health problems.

Playing video games for long periods of time can cause RSI and eyestrain. If the user has a bad posture, it also causes back, shoulder and neck problems. Playing at night can disrupt sleep patterns. It is usually a sedentary activity and needs to be moderated by other activities if you want to stay fit. The advert is aimed at parents of children who use a computer for too long at a time.

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